The Kansas City Royals are putting pressure on first-place Detroit and aim for their eighth consecutive victory when they open a four-game series against the host Tigers on Monday. Detroit's lead in the American League Central has dipped to 1 1/2 games as Kansas City has made up five in June while playing its best baseball of season. Detroit's Justin Verlander is struggling, but possesses a 17-5 career mark and 2.89 ERA in 31 career starts against the Royals.Detroit dominated five early-season matchups with Kansas City, winning all of them by a combined 32-12 score. The Tigers roared to a 27-12 start and came back to the field by losing 16 of their next 22 contests before winning three of their last four. The Royals are outscoring the opposition 45-17 during their seven-game winning streak and have hit 14 homers over their last 16 games after hitting only 21 over the first 52 contests.TV: 7:08 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, FSN DetroitPITCHING MATCHUP: Royals LH Jason Vargas (6-2, 3.30 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (6-6, 4.61)Vargas is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two 2014 starts against Detroit and his career mark against the Tigers is 2-2 with a 5.01 ERA in seven outings. He defeated Cleveland in his last start when he allowed three runs and six hits in 7 2/3 innings to record his fourth win in the last five decisions. Vargas has pitched six or more innings in six of his last seven starts.Verlander has lost four of his last five starts and has given up five or more earned runs in five of his last six outings. The Chicago White Sox rocked him for seven runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings on Wednesday when he issued four walks for the second straight start. Verlander is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two outings against Kansas City this season.WALK-OFFS 1. Royals 1B Eric Hosmer has three homers and 11 RBIs over the last 11 games after entering June with just one homer and 23 RBIs.2. Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler is 16-for-50 with two homers against Vargas, while CF Austin Jackson is only 4-for-20.3. Kansas City DH Billy Butler is 32-for-74 with two homers against Verlander, while C Salvador Perez is 12-for-27 with a homer and seven doubles.PREDICTION: Royals 8, Tigers 5